For the Record: Sandeman’s Last Charge – Horse vs Tanks addenum
Hello everyone, just a quick addition to the Horses vs Tanks article. There have been some mocking comments (as usual) about the Polish using horses in warfare in 1939. When someone says “World War Two”, everyone immediately imagines German Panzers rolling, with armored infantry following them in their halftracks – or scores of Soviet T-34 tanks advancing. Few people imagine horses, but the harsh reality was that all the Axis countries (but Soviets and Japanese too) were heavily relying on horses for logistics – in fact, Romania and Hungary logistic forces were nearly 100 percent hippomobile. Either way, pretty much all the nations were using the horses not only for logistics, but occasionally for combat too. Allegedly the last British cavalry charge in history took place in March 18 (other sources state March 24), 1942 in Burma. A force of roughly 100 cavalrymen, consisting of Burmese conscripts, led by Indian Sikh officers and commanded by captain Arthur Guy Sandeman, was performing the reconnaissance of the area near Toungoo, roughly 250km northwest of Rangoon. Captain Sandeman spotted some Asian soldiers on a hill nearby, building some sort of fortification – he knew a Chinese auxillia was in the area, so he paid them no heed. Little did he know he just ran into Japanese vanguard units. He found out the hard way only after two Japanese machineguns started firing, killing many of the men in the open. Sandeman did not panic – in fact, he ordered the bugler to signal the “charge!” order, drew his cavalry sabre and charged the Japanese position along with the rest of his troops, screaming their Burmese battlecries. They never made it to the Japanese lines, in the open and without cover, they had no chance whatsoever – captain Sandeman died that day with a sword in his hand. The American last charge actually happened only months earlier on Philippines. On 16th of January 1942, the situation was looking bleak for the American and native Phillipino troops, as the Japanese were attacking the islands in force. On that day, US 26th Cavalry unit moved towards a town of Moron, when they ran into advancing units of Japanese 122nd Infantry. The US commander, Lt. Edwin Ramsey didn’t wait for anything and ordered his cavalrymen to charge. With guns blazing, the cavalry smashed into the Japanese infantry on the main town street, routing them in the process. After breaking thru the Japanese line, they turned around and scattered, picking off the Japanese survivors of the charge one by one. By the end of the day, the town was cleared of Japanese forces and the cavalry occupied it, only to be called back during the general retreat a day later. In the end, even such acts of heroism were but fading lights in the long night, that was to engulf the Pacific, but I think they really shouldn’t be forgotten.